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Kidderminster Harriers 2 Hereford United 1
6:09pm Thursday 26th December 2013 in Sport
KIDDERMINSTER Harriers claimed local bragging rights over rivals Hereford United in the proverbial game of two halves.
First-half efforts from Michael Gash and Danny Jackman looked to have set Kidderminster on course for what seemed a big Boxing Day derby win.
But Josh O’Keefe scored a scrappy goal early in the second period as Hereford took control and Harriers were forced to defend.
However, Steve Burr’s side held on to end a three-match losing streak in the Skrill Premier and rose back into the play-offs to fifth position.
With left-back Mickey Demetriou moving into the centre of defence to cover for the suspended Josh Gowling, Harriers took an early lead against the unchanged Bulls.
Gash fired them ahead in the ninth minute with a fine free-kick after the fit-again Jack Byrne was stopped in his tracks by Chris Bush.
The hosts had a penalty plea ignored in the 13th minute when right-back Lee Vaughan went to ground under a challenge by Bush.
But Harriers were in complete control as Joe Lolley showed excellent close control to turn away and fire a shot at keeper Dan Lloyd-Weston in the 15th minute.
Hereford were living on the edge and Chris Sharp blocked an effort with his hand but again no spot-kick was awarded.
The visitors’ over-worked keeper was in action again to beat away Lolley’s first-time snap-shot. But Kidderminster doubled their lead with a well-crafted team goal in the 29th minute.
The hosts constructed an eight-pass flowing move involving Gash, Callum Gittings and Byrne with Jackman bursting into the box and rifling a fine left-footed effort into the back of the net.
The hosts had a strong call for a penalty ignored in the 36th minute when Lolley appeared to be pulled back after combining with Gash.
Amari Morgan-Smith, back from suspension, then curled a shot wide after a fine run and cross from Vaughan.
Byrne nearly added a third just before half-time but rolled an effort from the edge of the box wide after swapping passes with Morgan-Smith.
But Hereford got themselves back into the match early in the second-half after Michael Rankine nearly scored when his downward header hit keeper Danny Lewis.
Kidderminster’s weakness at the back arose again as they failed to clear and O’Keefe scrambled the ball home at the far post in the 49th minute.
Lolley’s effort was saved by Lloyd-Weston but Hereford continued to boss the game and O’Keefe had a good chance to level in the 86th minute but stabbed a first-time effort wide of the left post.
With Harriers pegged back, they were forced to endure a tense five minutes of injury-time but held out to secure a much-needed three points.
Harriers: Lewis, L Vaughan, Demetriou, Storer, Dunkley, Byrne (Dance 73), Gash, Jackman, Gittings, Lolley (Fowler 73), Morgan-Smith. Subs not used: Malbon, Grimes, N Vaughan.
Hereford: Lloyd-Weston, Collins, Bush, Graham, McDonald, O’Keefe, Lathrope, Artus (Brown 72), Rankine (Walker 72), Sharp, Evans. Subs not used: Gwynne, Edwards. Attendance: 3,420 (831 away fans).
Meanwhile, Carl Brown scored in the 73rd minute as Evesham United won 1-0 at local rivals Stratford Town in Calor Southern League Division One South and West.